Thanks to my seasonal pessimism, my counter-top is groaning with tomatoes. Even as I complain about the humidity and grumble about watering parched flowers, I feel winter’s death-grip closing in fast. When you spend your formative winters in Grand Forks, North Dakota, you know of winter. And you sure as heck appreciate summer tomatoes.
So if you, like I, have planted too many plants, or if you, like I, compulsively buy tomatoes from every produce stand you pass, then this sauce is for you. (I’ve never frozen it, because it’s so good that we eat it all in one sitting, but I’d like to try. If you make and freeze the sauce successfully, let me know.)
This recipe comes via the excellent blog Chez Pim. It’s a perfect tomato sauce, pared down to the essence of tomato. It also takes only 15 minutes to make. Roll up your sleeves and crush the tomatoes with your hands—it’s fun.
I tossed the sauce with pasta for the photo, which is completely delicious, but my truly favorite way to eat it is with good, crusty bread. Tear off pieces, scoop up as much sauce as the bread will hold, close your eyes, and enjoy a huge bite of summer. Or, take a note from Jamie Oliver and pour the sauce in a pan, nestle in mushroom caps filled with cheese, sprinkle with fresh herbs, and bake until the cheese bubbles.
However you eat the sauce, winter will just have to back off for a minute.
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Chez Pim, www.chezpim.com
Makes about 1.5 cups of sauce, enough to generously coat 1/2 lb. of pasta
2 lbs. fresh, ripe garden tomatoes
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped; or none at all
1/4 c. olive oil, you can use less or barely any at all
salt to taste
1/2 Tbsp. of balsamic or sherry vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Put a large pot of water on to heat. With a sharp knife, make a cross mark at the bottom of each tomato. When water is hot, add the tomatoes and let sit for just a minute or so, until you can see the skin come a little loose at the cross mark. Remove the tomatoes from the hot water and give them a quick rinse in cold water. (You can leave the hot water in the pot if you’re going to make pasta. Add salt, bring to a boil.) With a small knife, peel the skins from the tomatoes – they should slide right off. With the tip of the knife, cut around each green crown and remove it.
Over a medium bowl, squeeze the tomatoes, crushing the pulp with your fingers to break it up into small chunks.
Add olive oil and garlic to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat until garlic just starts to sizzle, then add tomatoes (keep the bowl handy) and a big pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes, until you can see the pulp breaking down and releasing the juices. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the chunks of pulp and put them back in the bowl, leaving the juices in the pan.
Continue cooking the juices until they thicken and are no longer watery. Add the pulp back to the pan, as well as the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper (and a little more vinegar if you think it needs it).